Malaysia insists: No abuses in Sabah
MANILA, Philippines - Malaysia on Wednesday, March 13, denied reports of human rights violations against Filipinos as more evacuees continued to flee Sabah for fear of being caught in the crossfire.
"The Malaysian Government strongly rejects allegations of human rights abuses in Sabah, Malaysia as recently reported by some Media in the Philippines," Malaysia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
The statement singled out stories published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer on March 9 and March 10, wherein Sabah evacuees who arrived in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi recounted the ordeals they suffered under Malaysian police.
One of the evacuees from Sandakan, Sabah, Amira Taradji, 32, told the Inquirer through a phone interview that Malaysian policemen arrested and killed those suspected to be among the followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram IIIl. “They dragged all the males outside the house, kicked and hit them.”
The Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the reports published by the Inquirer were "unjustified and unsubstantiated" and "fabrication of lies of those whose intention [was] to damage and strain the good and close relations between Malaysia and the Republic of the Philippines."
The Tausug are said to be bearing the brunt of the Sabah conflict.
A Filipina from Sabah who was interviewed by Bombo Radyo Gensan on March 5 said Malaysian police had separated the Taususgs from other Filipino ethnic groups -- a claim confirmed by another Sabah evacuee interviewed by Rappler in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi.
But Malaysia also denied any such operation of "randomly targeting" Tausug -- the dominant ethnic group in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi which includes the armed followers of self-proclaimed Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III.
"The Chief of Royal Malaysian Police in Sabah, who is one of the top police officials overseeing the operation against the armed militant intruders in Lahad Datu and surrounding areas, had on 10 March 2013 categorically denied those allegations," the statement read.
"That statement was confirmed on 11 March 2013 by the Minister of Defence of Malaysia, who also strongly denied allegations that the Malaysian security apparatus are randomly targeting Filipinos of Suluk/Tausug descent in Sabah," it added.
On March 10, Sabah police chief Hamza Tai said security operations were only focused on Lahad Datu and Semporna and there was "nothing going on in Sandakan."
Following reports of alleged "inhumane treatment" given by Malaysia security forces, the Department of Foreign Affairs in the Philippines has ordered a probe into the situation in Sabah.
About 1500 Filipinos have fled Sabah since violence erupted in the area. Some 500 evacuees from Taganak Island arrived in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi Wednesday. - Rappler.com